November 26. 5am. Wall-to-wall customers, scrambling for that one of a kind sale item. Clerks half asleep, the smell of strong coffee on their breath. The thrill of victory when you find the perfect gift. The agony of defeat when you lose it by two minutes.
That is how Black Friday usually pans out.
But Ted Loebenberg has different plans for the years biggest shopping day, and he wants you involved, too.
He has organized Louisville's first Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange.
Buy Nothing Day? On Black Friday? The name itself sounds blasphemous!
"It's not anti-consumer," Loebenberg explains. "It's against everything else that goes along with the day...the waking up at 4am, the fighting the crowds."
What is Buy Nothing Day?
First organized 10 years ago in Providence, RI, it was meant as a day of reflection. Co-organizer Greg Garret described it as a positive, community affirming event which would allow people to take time to reflect on the effects of consumerism and the planet.
At the same time, it is an opportunity for people to donate a coat they no longer use so that someone who can't afford one can be warm.
Loebenberg, who is a professional auctioneer and owns Brokers Unlimited, Inc., and was a part of the original program in Providence, is now introducing it to Louisville.
On Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, for those of you who live under a rock), bring your coat/s to The Green Building, 732 East Market, beginning at 9am. From 10am-2pm, anyone that needs a coat for themselves or their family may come and take what they need.
Between the coat drive and the reflection on consumerism, there is hope that the themes of community and caring will be cultivated.
Behind the scenes
Usually an undertaking of this magnitude costs mucho denero to put together. The manpower, the advertising and marketing.
"I think it cost us about $50 to start the whole thing," Loebenberg told me. "Through word of mouth, simple networking, and email campaigns, this event took off."
He also explained that he didn't want donations. "It's not about going out and buying the coats. It's about community. That's the essence of the program."
And, if there are any coats leftover at the end of the day, Loebenberg says he has one or two charities lined up to take them to their members.
The bottom line
Loebenberg, and the other organizers, want us to realize that no one looks forward to the pressures of the holidays, and that by "mutual consent we trap ourselves in materialistic interpretations of holidays that are sacred."
It also gives us the opportunity to clean our closets and give something to someone else that would usually do without.
The Event: Louisville Buy Nothing Day Coat Exchange
When: November 26. Donations drop off at 9am. Coats will be distributed from 10am-2pm.
Where: The Green Building, 732 East Market
Contact Ted Loebenberg at 401-952-6566, or email@example.com for more info, or to volunteer.